1,000 Miles: Month 6
“What’s in like to run in Paris?” friends sometimes ask.
Paris is one of those places that has a certain reputation. It has an identity that’s known around the world. But like with anything, there’s an identity that we see from the outside and the one we see from the inside.
When you live in a place you come to know that inner identity. You live the everyday things that no one ever talks about outside of that place, and that’s particularly true when it comes to Paris. Because who would be silly enough to criticize Paris?
I came across this video a couple of weeks ago. It was made by Salomon and is all about running in Paris.
If I hadn’t been sitting in a tiny Parisian apartment after a crazy bike ride through rush hour traffic, I probably would have found it enticing. Romantic even. The light on the buildings is stunning. I would have wanted to lace up my shoes and get on a plane to Paris immediately. But instead I actually was in Paris and I couldn’t be motivated to go for a run even if you tempted me with almond croissants afterwards.
Running in Paris does look like this. When you run at 5:30 am. But you don’t always want to run at 5:30 am.
The rest of the time, you’re dodging pedestrians, trying not to get kid by a child barreling down the street on a kick scooter and dealing with the occasional “courage mademoiselle” from the creepy man staring at you. And all you want is a goddamn quiet trail where you can let your thoughts wander and you can breathe.
When we stand from the outside looking in, we only see one side of things. That holds true for cities that we visit and it holds true for our circle of friends. Particularly in the day and age of social media, how often do we think, “their life looks amazing,” when someone posts yet another update about their new job/engagement/baby/life changing travel experience? But if we dug a little deeper we may find out that those people are struggling as much as we are. No one is perfect. Life is messy. That’s just how it is.
1,000 Miles has become a good reminder of that.
When I got into 1,000 Miles I thought I would be really concentrated on mileage, and certainly, there’s a part of me that is. Adding a few additional miles to the overall mileage every time I go out for a run definitely makes for a certain adrenaline kick, even if the run itself sucks.
What I’ve found however is that it’s not the mileage that is the biggest takeaway. Six months in and 1,000 Miles isn’t about running a certain number of miles. It’s about having something to hold onto. It’s about sticking with something. Something that guides the way. Something that acts as a grounding point. Something that at times is the best thing you can image, and at other times you wonder how you will get through it all.
On the days when I’m not motivated to run, the mere act of having committed to a goal that I would like to see through is the only thing that’s strong enough to push me out the door. Strong enough to push me to get in the middle of all that non-romantic stuff that we often choose not to see. Strong enough to push me to find a way to appreciate the everyday, even if it’s just for a brief moment.
“Maybe we should just change it to 1,000 Kilometers,” I texted to Megan last week, both of us deep in a running rut. Yes, this too happens. You want to stop. You don’t want to run. You want to escape. You want to skip out on all that hard stuff.
But you don’t change something just to make it easier. You work your way through the hard part. It’s easy to glamorize and focus on the highlights, it’s always harder to wade through the actual mess.
There’s a routine no matter where you are, be it Portland or Paris. The grass is always greener, but as a friend recently put it, “the point of life is found in living it.” And if you don’t commit to living, how will you know what life is?
Living, and running, is just as much about the downs as it is about the ups. It’s an ongoing set of rolling hills with a few plateaus on occasion. Sometimes the trails are quiet and peaceful, and sometimes you’re on asphalt surrounded by screaming children and pigeons. But this is living.
On to month 7.